Ben Looker will make a rare visit to Brisbane to ride Allknight Saint for Brad Herne and the trainer hopes he can entice the jockey from his NSW Northern Rivers base more often.
Looker, who spent some time in Brisbane as an apprentice with Lawrie Mayfield-Smith, rides the Herne-trained gelding in Saturday’s Listed Recognition Stakes (1400m) at Eagle Farm.
One of the leading riders in northern NSW, Looker rode 80 winners last season and has had success with Herne recently when he has taken horses south.
“I have been trying to get Ben to come back to Brisbane for 12 months. He has a lot of talent and I think riding here against the Jeff Lloyds, Jim Byrnes and Robbie Fradds would bring out the best in him,” Herne said.
“He can ride at 54 kilograms which is also a big plus. I had no hesitation in booking him for Allknight Saint when Jeff (Lloyd) went with Mr Epic.”
Allknight Saint has shown a distinct liking for the new Eagle Farm track surface with his two runs on it resulting in a win and an unlucky fourth.
“At his last start he became the first horse to run under 1.23 for the 1400 metres at Eagle Farm. A few people pointed out that was faster than they ran in the Stradbroke Handicap,” Herne said.
“But it was a good run and he seems to be getting better with age. He can sit up on the pace from where he is drawn (8) and you know he will fight on in the straight.”
Herne is keen to press on into the summer with Allknight Saint who has won up to 1650m.
“A race like the Bernborough Stakes over 1600 metres on New Years Eve will suit him very well,” Herne said.
“I know he is seven years old but he has never raced better.”
Allknight Saint is a $15 chance with Group Three winner Cylinder Beach the $5 favourite for his first start since he was unplaced in the Queensland Derby in June.